In a time fraught with political turbulence and cultural unease, having a voice has never felt so important. For Habibi this comes at a crucial moment. The quintet just released ‘Cardamom Garden’ their first EP in over four years; significantly, the first one with lyrics recorded in Farsi. This new direction has been a long time coming for the band who are acutely aware of music as both a natural part of their heritage and a representation of their own identity: “Middle Eastern culture is very heavily influenced by the arts,” shares Iranian-American lead singer Rahill Jamalifard. The EP combines her culture’s flair with a finely tuned vocabulary of widely appealing tracks structured in a new pop approach: engaging and highly danceable while eschewing typical formulas.
Featuring three original songs, and a Farsi cover of 60s classic “Green Fuz,” 'Cardamom Garden' was recorded in Brooklyn and mastered by Heba Kadry (Björk, Slowdive, Future Islands). Bringing their sound even closer to its middle-eastern roots is Tehran-born Yahya Alkhansa, who contributed tonbak percussions.
Both Jamalifard and Habibi guitarist Lenny Lynch originate from Detroit, although neither met until both were living and playing shows in the local Brooklyn scene, where they intuitively fostered a shared connection over their love of Middle Eastern psych music. The two recruited Karen Isabel (drums) and Leah Beth Fishman (bass), fellow musicians who were also friendly through the same DIY music hub, though both also had roots as far away as Puerto Rico before all landing in the common ground of New York City. They were quick to receive critical accolades, with their self-titled 2013 full-length debut heralded by The New Yorker as “stunning.”
“I see you walkin', walkin’ down Woodward / tryin’ to catch a ride,” Jamalifard sings in live favorite “Detroit Baby,” a reference to an avenue in the Detroit of their youth that could similarly apply to the place in Ridgewood, New York where she currently resides, or any other street in America or across the globe. Habibi have proven to be capable of showcasing authentically crafted music that is both uniquely its own yet able to traverse borders in its overarching appeal. This ethos is clear even in the band’s chosen name: “Habibi” translated to English means “my love”-a universal language that makes them easy to embrace.
Featured in Amoeba Records "Whats In My Bag" 2019 Series.
"Empowering" - Billboard
"Like the self-titled effort that precedes it, this three-track EP is full of charged-up garage rhythms and infectious hooks. But here, they interact with elements of Middle Eastern psych. The results are unexpected, exciting, and, as always, catchy as hell." -i-D
"There’s a million bands from Brooklyn—but only one that blends psych-rock riffs with girl group harmonies in lead singer Rahill Jamalifard’s native tongue, Farsi. Back with a third EP this March, Habibi is more polished than ever and focused on using their music to make a radical point." - Interview
"Habibi is taking NYC by storm, and their latest video, an Iranian TV-inspired montage for “Gypsy Love”, is just the icing on the cake of a successful AF year for the Brooklyn-based rock and roll crew." - Milk.xyz
"The band's newest EP, Cardamom Garden, houses lyrics that move seamlessly between English and Farsi." - NPR Weekend Edition
"Cardamom has the rare ability to transcend culinary classification, adding a rounded depth to savory curries and roasts while also floating to the forefront of sugary desserts. The Brooklyn-based quintet Habibi’s new EP has a similar malleability: It’s full of music that blends cultures, languages, and genres, with charming and intriguing results, (...) shedding rigid definitions of what constitutes American music on the way to the band’s future." - Pitchfork
"It was a special night. Not only for the mostly-female audience, but for the all-female band, Habibi too." - Relix
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